Read The Graves of the Guilty (Hope Street Church Mysteries Book 3) Online

Authors: Ellery Adams

Tags: #church, #Bible study, #romance, #murder, #mystery

The Graves of the Guilty (Hope Street Church Mysteries Book 3)

BOOK: The Graves of the Guilty (Hope Street Church Mysteries Book 3)
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Dear Reader,

 

The Hope Street mysteries were originally published by St. Martin's Press and written under the name Jennifer Stanley. The titles, in order, were
Stirring Up Strife
,
Path of the Wicked
, and
The Way of the Guilty
.

 

I have completely rewritten all three novels and am now publishing them under the name Ellery Adams as
The Path of the Crooked
,
The Way of the Wicked
, and
The Graves of the Guilty
.

 

If you’ve read the original books, you will find the basic plot of the above titles unchanged. My intention was to polish the writing in each installment and rerelease the novels as crisper, cleaner, more engaging books. Stay tuned for forthcoming novels in the Hope Street mystery series as well!

 

Thank you for supporting cozy mysteries.

 

Your friend,

Ellery Adams

The Graves of the Guilty

 

 

Cooper Lee is on top of the world, thanks to her great friends at Hope Street Church and the satisfaction of having solved two perplexing mysteries. And with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, she’s hoping that love is in the air for her and her new boyfriend, Nathan. But Cooper’s faith is about to be tested when her sister, Ashley, discovers a corpse and is implicated in the gruesome murder. And just as troubling, a darkly handsome and exciting man has come into Cooper’s life and just might tempt her to stray.

 

As Cooper and her friends from the Bible study group once again spring into action to root out a killer—and Cooper digs deep to solve a more personal mystery—she discovers that following the clues is raising more questions than answers. But one thing’s for certain: when cold-blooded criminals mess with Cooper’s family and friends, the killers haven’t got a prayer.

 

Beyond the Page Books

are published by

Beyond the Page Publishing

www.beyondthepagepub.com

 

This is a fully revised edition of a book that was originally published as
The Way of the Guilty
by Jennifer Stanley, copyright © 2010 by Jennifer Stanley. Revised edition copyright © 2014 by Jennifer Stanley.

Material excerpted from
The Path of the Crooked
and
The Way of the Wicked
copyright © 2014 by Jennifer Stanley.

Cover design and illustration by Dar Albert, Wicked Smart Designs

 

ISBN: 978-1-940846-33-0

 

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this book. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented without the express written permission of both the copyright holder and the publisher.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

 

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Contents

 

 

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Magnolia’s Marvels

Excerpt from
The Path of the Crooked

Excerpt from
The Way of the Wicked

Books by Ellery Adams

About the Author

 

 

 

The way of the guilty is devious,
but the conduct of the innocent is upright.
Proverbs 21:8

1

 

If Cooper Lee had known she would spend Friday night drinking champagne at an unfamiliar woman’s mansion while a trio of busty coeds modeled lingerie, she would have come up with any number of excuses to avoid the entire scene. Unfortunately, Cooper had completely misunderstood her sister’s invitation to accompany her to “a pajama party” being hosted by one of her high-society friends.

“Georgia Ferguson has such a gorgeous house. Wait until you see it!” Cooper’s sister Ashley had shouted over the roar of Cooper’s power sander the weekend before the infamous fete. “Can you turn that thing off for a second?”

After putting down the tool, Cooper slid her safety goggles onto the crown of her head, picked up a piece of sandpaper, and began working on the rough areas on a chapel-shaped birdhouse. “Why should I be interested in Georgia Ferguson’s house?”

Stopping Cooper’s hand with her own, Ashley announced, “Because I’m going to a party there next weekend and you’re coming with me.”

Imagining a room filled with Ashley’s sophisticated acquaintances, Cooper grimaced. “Why would I want to go to your friend’s party? No offense, but I have my own friends.”

Ashley drummed her fingers against the workbench and Cooper couldn’t help but admire her sister’s pristine French manicure. “Because I need you to help me select an array of fabulous new nighties and
other
items.”

 Removing her safety glasses from the top of her wheat-blonde hair, she stared at Ashley with her intriguing mismatched eyes. “I’m not interested. Now, if that’s all, I’d like to get back to this.”

Ashley pushed sawdust scraps around with her finger, forming the outline of a wobbly heart on the surface of the table. “The truth is that I need to go to this party, Coop. I’m looking for a way to knock Lincoln’s socks off. To make him sit up and notice me like he used to.”

“Are you two having difficulties again?” Cooper looked at her sister with concern “Over the baby issue?”

A flash of misery crossed Ashley’s face and she marred the sawdust heart with a sweep of her hand. “I think Lincoln’s avoiding me. For the last few months he’s been attending lots of late meetings. Then there’s the golf outings with his daddy and brother every weekend—not to mention the poker nights.” Tears pooled in her lovely blue eyes. “I feel like I’m losing him.”

Pulling off her gloves, Cooper put her arm around her sister’s slim waist and squeezed. “He loves you, Ashley. He’d be crazy not to.”

Ashley sighed. “Love is hard work, isn’t it? Harder than I ever thought it would be. I had my dream wedding, Lincoln carried me over the threshold of our perfect house, and for a while, everything was wonderful. A true fairy tale. But then I was supposed to get pregnant and grow all round and cute and have that glow
.
I’d deliver the most precious beautiful little baby this world has ever seen and dress its sweet, precious body in hand-embroidered smocks and Robeez booties.” She sniffed. “Instead I find out I have a bicornuate uterus, and even after having surgery I’ll have a tough time getting pregnant.” She thumped the workbench and then eyed the sawdust on her palm in distaste. “I’ve never wanted
anything
so badly as I want this baby!”

Cooper cleaned up the sawdust using a small broom and dustpan. “Ashley, maybe you need to take a break from thinking about babies all the time. It obviously upsets you, and if you’re worried about your marriage, perhaps you and Lincoln should spend some quality time alone together.”

“That’s
exactly
what I’m planning.” Ashley’s good humor immediately returned. “I’ve booked us a romantic cruise to the Bahamas, but I need something incredible to wear when I surprise him with the trip. Something that will ensure he won’t say no to taking a week off work. That’s why we’re going to Georgia’s party.”

“So it’s like a trunk show?” Cooper asked.

“Exactly. All the women attending are married, so I doubt there’ll be anything scandalous for sale.” Ashley added, “I know it’s not your scene, Cooper, but it would really mean a lot to me if you came along. And you might even find yourself picking out something to wear for that magical moment when you and Nathan are ready
.

Ignoring her sister’s remark, Cooper said, “I guess I could use a new pair of pajamas.”

Ashley scrunched up her lips as though stifling a smile. “Whatever you set your cap on will be my treat. It’s the least I can do since you’ve agreed to come.” Shouldering her bright orange purse, she flicked a wave of glossy blonde hair off her shoulder. “I’ll pick you up next Friday at seven. Make sure you eat dinner first. You’re going to need something in your stomach to soak up all the alcohol.”

 

• • •

 

During the following week, Cooper was too busy to think about the Pajama Party. A manufacturer recall on one of Canon’s most popular copiers had every employee from Make It Work! scurrying to replace drums and fuser units across the city of Richmond as quickly as possible.

Cooper was just returning from an assignment at a pharmaceutical company’s headquarters when she was accosted in the locker room by one of her coworkers.

“Cooper!” She drew back as Emilio Calabria’s bass voice with its heavy New Jersey accent boomed in her ear. The dark-haired, square-jawed, muscular hunk grabbed her by the elbow. “You have to help me!” he shouted without preamble. “You’re a girl, so you must get how girls think.”

BOOK: The Graves of the Guilty (Hope Street Church Mysteries Book 3)
5.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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